Factors associated with introduction of complementary feeding of infants below six months, in Machakos District, Kenya
Breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices are crucial for optimal growth and development during infancy. Optimal feeding practice in the first year of life is crucial for the survival and health of infants, and has long-term consequences in later life. However, non-optimal feeding practices exist widely in Machakos. The present study therefore aimed at finding out factors associated with early introduction of complementary feeding for the life of infants in Machakos district, Kenya. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Machakos district between August and September, 2006. One hundred seventy four mothers who were residents of Machakos district. with infants aged 0-6 months were randomly chosen from Machakos General Hospital.. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data regarding the feeding practices and factors related to early introduction of complementary feeding. Anthropometric measurement consisting of weight and height were taken from mothers and their infants. Data entry, cleaning and analysis was done using SPSS version 12.01 and EPr-NUT version 6 software packages. The results of the analysis indicated that the prevalence of underweight among infants in the district was 4%, of which 1.1% were male infants and 7.4% female infants .. Among determinants investigated in this study, age of the mother, marital status of the mother and knowledge gained at the MCH clinic were factor found to be significantly associated with introduction of complementary feeding. The study established that higher proportion of younger mothers introduced complementary feeding early compared with the older mothers (p<0.05). It was also noticed that a bigger percentage of single mothers introduced complementary foods early (p<0.05) compared to the married mothers. The major contributory factors however were experience and knowledge the older and married mothers had gained over time. The study also revealed that the teaching at the MCH clinic touching on breastfeeding and age of introduction of complementary feeding were significantly associated with the early introduction of complementary feeding (p<O.05). Although not significant, data showed that more businesswomen tended to introduce complementary feeding early. The results of the case studies indicated that regardless of the mothers occupation or workload, they all introduced complementary feeding early. Housewives however, introduced complementary feeding both early and at 4-6 months. Slightly high proportion of mothers started introducing complementary feeding at the recommended age when they got information from the MCH clinic. This shows the relevance of intensified training at the MCH clinic. The main reasons given by the mothers for introducing complementary feeding early were not having enough milk, job employment and reduction of colic pains. It was proposed that further research needed to be done on the colic pains and the "insufficient milk syndrome" In conclusion, the study revealed that there was a significant association between age of introduction of complementary feeding and 'the content of lesson learnt at MCH clinic. Therefore. training of mothers at the MCH clinic should be intensified .. Additional time in between the day for training of more mothers at MCH clinic on these optimal infant feeding lessons is highly recommended.